There has been a lot of discussion about the term mindfulness in recent years. While some may have heard of mindfulness before, for others this may be the first time they are being introduced to this topic. At Think Happy Live Healthy, we love talking about mindfulness and incorporating these practices into our daily lives and empowering our clients to do the same. Are you asking yourself, “What is all the hype about?” Well, let’s dive in together.
Let’s first talk about a common misconception about mindfulness: doing nothing. People may think that being mindful means sitting in one spot and not thinking about anything. In reality, though, mindfulness is really about sustaining attention on the present moment in a non-judgemental way. When thoughts arise, it is allowing them to exist without putting a label on them, and then returning to the present moment. This action in and of itself is quite powerful! Mindfulness is a practice that can be completed not only when sitting alone, but also can be incorporated in many daily activities, such as walking and eating, to name a few. The key is that mindfulness uses all five senses to observe, describe, and participate in the environment. Mindfulness has been linked to helping individuals be more authentically present and engaged in daily life, leading to improved psychological and physical wellbeing. Here are three tips to keep in mind when starting a mindfulness practice:
1. Incorporate into daily routine: The more that mindfulness is practiced, the more natural it will feel. When thinking about when to include it in your daily routine, start off with trying to practice mindfulness consistently for just a few minutes a day. While for some this may be at the beginning of the day prior to work, for others it may be during a walk on a lunch break or while eating a meal. The options are endless and are personal to the individual and what makes most sense for your schedule. Once a few minutes feels comfortable, slowly increase the amount of time you allot to your practice. Mindfulness can be done frequently throughout the day, however, until the routine becomes familiar, it may be easier to start with designated short periods of time.
2. Practice during moments of non-crisis: Consistently practicing mindfulness during moments of calm is important. Just as you would likely not attempt to use new technology for the first time during a corporate presentation without practicing beforehand, the same holds true for not wanting to try out mindfulness skills during a moment of crisis. Our minds are used to focusing on many competing demands at once and need time to learn how to sustain attention in the present moment. Practicing in moments of calm will help strengthen those connections which will communicate to our brain that this is an effective strategy to use when in an escalated state.
3. Find what works for you: Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. There are a number of resources available for both children and adults. While some may find listening to meditations helpful, others may want to engage in a certain activity to help them connect more and sustain attention in the present moment. Take time to explore what interests you and you may find that one, or even a few, mindfulness activities may spark your interest.
For more information on mindfulness and if you are interested in exploring mindfulness practices in individual therapy or participating in our psychoeducational group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 703-942-9745.